Puglia, located in the south, in heel of Italy, sandwiched between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, has become one of Italy’s most popular holiday destinations. It offers ancient towns with long histories, extravagant churches, bizarre conical-roofed trulli houses, fabulous masseria hotels which have been converted from traditional fortified manor houses and a great deal of Baroque splendour.
On the east side of Italy, Puglia’s northern tip is at approximately the same longitude as Naples. In the south, it’s the heel of Italy’s geographic boot that splits the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. It’s relatively small – only a four-hour drive north to south, barely an hour east to west.
It also has a temperate Mediterranean climate with mild(ish) winters and hot summers and averaging 300 sunny days a year making this a destination for all seasons.Known as Apulia to Italians, many fall in love with it since it’s unlike most of the rest of the country. The landscape ranges from beautiful beaches (on 500 miles of coast along two seas) to vineyards and olive groves inland. Its architecture ranges from medieval villages to the most ostentatious Baroque architecture in all of Italy. And the food and wine is nothing short of delizioso.
Spring arrives early in Puglia and at this time the weather is generally warm and sunny, with temperatures rising to the early twenties by the end of April rising steadily through May. Another perk of visiting at this time is lack of crowds making it a pleasure to explore cities such as Lecce, Galipoli, Alberobello or Bari that are much loved by tourists.
Walking the Ancient City
In the center of town on the Piazza Sant’Oronzo is a Roman amphitheater dating from Emperor Hadrian’s time. Discovered in the 1930s, it’s still undergoing restoration. From it walk up Via Vittorio Emanuele and in just a few minutes you’ll come to the Piazza Duomo. It’s a beautiful square almost hidden down a little alleyway. The Cathedral of the Madonna Assunta and the Bishop’s Palace and Seminary surround it.
Although Via Emanuele is the main street in this part of town, you’d never know it. It’s narrow, bereft of sidewalks, and lined with cafés and shops as with all the streets in the area. It lends itself well to the rest of the Middle-Ages character of the city.
Summer time in Puglia lasts from the end of May when it is already warm – and the strawberries and peaches will be ripening – to the end of September. In July and August, Italians on holiday flood into Puglia and though this is the most crowded time, the area is busy with food festivals, concerts and other spectacular music events. You may even learn the local dance such as the tarantella or pizzica, at one of the many music and dance festivals that pop up across the historic towns and beach villages.
August tends to be the hottest month of the year with temperatures sometimes reaching 31°C. The waters of the Adriatic sea warm up to a most pleasing temperature around the 20s which is perfect for those who love swimming in the sea.